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11 Terms Used by Spies

Terms Used by Spies, 6-11

Round out your knowledge of spy lingo with the following terms.

6. Canary Trap

Do you suspect a leak in your organization? Even if the leakers aren't small yellow birds, you might be able to catch them by setting a canary trap -- giving different versions of sensitive information to each suspected leaker and seeing which version gets leaked. Although this method has been around for years, the term was popularized by Tom Clancy in the novel Patriot Games.


7. Dangle

In spy terminology, a dangle is an agent who pretends to be interested in defecting to or joining another intelligence agency or group. The dangle convinces the new agency that they have changed loyalties by offering to act as a double agent. The dangle then feeds information to their original agency while giving disinformation to the other.

8. Honeypot

A honeypot is a trap that uses sex to lure an enemy agent into disclosing classified information or, in some cases, to capture or kill them. In the classic Hitchcock film North by Northwest, Eva Marie Saint's character was both a honeypot and a double agent. In real life, in 1961, U.S. diplomat Irvin Scarbeck was blackmailed into providing secrets after he was lured by a female Polish agent and photographed in a compromising position.

9. Camp Swampy

Camp Swampy is the nickname of the CIA's secret training base. That's about all that is known about it, except that it was named for the Camp Swampy in the Beetle Bailey comic strip.

10. Uncle

Uncle is a slang term referring to the headquarters of any espionage service. One such headquarters is the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, or U.N.C.L.E., the headquarters on the 1960s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., starring Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, and Leo G. Carroll.

11. Starburst Maneuver

How does a spy lose someone who is tailing him? One way is by employing a starburst maneuver -- a tactic in which several identical looking vehicles suddenly go in different directions, forcing the surveillance team to quickly decide which one to follow. A classic example of this strategy was used in the 2003 film The Italian Job. Similar-looking agents can also be used instead of vehicles. Kids, don't try this with your parents.


Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen